Ivan Neill

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Sir Ivan Neill (1 July 1906–November 2001) was an Army officer and Unionist politician in Northern Ireland.

Early life[edit]

Born in Belfast, Ireland, Neill studied at Ravenscroft National School and Shaftesbury Tutorial College before receiving a BSc in Economics from Queen's University, Belfast.[1] He ran a firm of building contractors in East Belfast[2] before joining the Royal Engineers as an officer in 1939. He served with the military until 1946, by which time he held the rank of major.[1]

Political activity[edit]

In 1946, Neill was elected to Belfast Corporation as an Ulster Unionist Party member, and two years later, he became an alderman, serving until 1950. At the Northern Ireland general election, 1949, he was elected for Belfast Ballynafeigh. In January 1950, he was made Minister of Labour, and was appointed to the Privy Council of Northern Ireland.[1] In this post, he sometimes spoke against his Government's policy - for example, against the 1956 Rent Bill which permitted landlords to increase rents in order to improve properties, while in 1958 he was rebuked for making a critical speech on economic policy.[3]

He held the post until 1962, when he became Minister of Education, then in 1964 he moved to become Minister of Finance and Leader of the House of Commons.[1] He was stripped of the Leadership of the House the following spring, and resigned from the Government in April,[4] feeling that he was being marginalised in favour of William Craig.[3]

In 1964, Neill again took a seat as an alderman on Belfast Corporation, this time serving for six years. In December 1968, he returned to the Government as Minister of Development, then in March 1969, he was elected as the Speaker of the House of Commons.[1]

The Official Irish Republican Army attempted to kidnap Neill from his house near Rostrevor, in October 1971. They were unsuccessful, but in December, his house was burnt down in an arson attack.[2]

The Parliament was prorogued in 1972. In March 1973, the British Government published its plans to replace the Parliament with the Northern Ireland Assembly. Neill resigned as a Member of Parliament and as Speaker. He was not replaced, and was therefore the last Speaker of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. He received a knighthood and withdrew from politics.[2]

In 1995, Neill wrote an autobiography, Church and State.[3] In this, he called on unionists to put aside their differences.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Biographies of Members of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
  2. ^ a b c d "Obituary - Sir Ivan Neill", Belfast Telegraph, 7 November 2001
  3. ^ a b c Graham Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party
  4. ^ Michael Kennedy, Division and Consensus
Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Frederick Thompson
Member of Parliament for Belfast Ballynafeigh
1949 - 1973
Succeeded by
Position prorogued 1972
Parliament abolished 1973
Political offices
Preceded by
Harry Midgley
Minister of Labour and National Insurance
1950–62
Succeeded by
Herbert Kirk
Preceded by
William May
Minister of Education
1962–64
Succeeded by
Herbert Kirk
Preceded by
Jack Andrews
Minister of Finance
1964–65
Succeeded by
Herbert Kirk
Preceded by
New position?
Leader of the House of Commons
1964–65
Succeeded by
Brian Faulkner
Preceded by
William Fitzsimmons
Minister of Development
1968–69
Succeeded by
William Long
Preceded by
Sir Norman Stronge
Speaker of the Northern Ireland House of Commons
1969–73
Succeeded by
Position prorogued 1972
Parliament abolished 1973